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I have been playing chess again for two or three months, after a period of about twenty years of interruption. In a game against a human adversary, I noticed that my opponent was taking the time to build a large wall of pawns similar to the following picture, while I was on my side playing with stronger pieces.

8/8/8/8/P1P1P1P1/1P1P1P1P/8/8 w KQkq - 0 1

I found quite difficult to play aggressively against such a wall. Recently I tried the same and found this strategy rather efficient (of course the wall is never perfect but the picture gives the idea).

I would like to know a little more about this style of playing. Does it have a name? Is it known to be efficient?

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    Reminds me a bit of the stonewall formation. – itub Jul 29 '19 at 16:28
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    This resembles checkers more than chess. For starters, white has dark-square weaknesses in that position but to know if indeed those are weaknesses we should also know which pieces are left on the board and which opening let to such kind of position. – Phemelo Khetho Jul 29 '19 at 20:56
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    This kind of setup is kinda frequent at the beginner level, and learning how to "refute" it is an essential part of one's progress in chess. – Annatar Jul 30 '19 at 8:54
  • No, it has no name and is not efficient. It's just weak beginner play. – adedqwd Oct 4 '19 at 18:40
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I would say that type of formation leaves a lot of weak squares, as enemy pieces can occupy pretty much any dark square they want (mainly b4, d4, f4, h4) and start an attack from there with help from the pawns. These pieces will never ever be kicked away. White's light squared-bishop will also suffer because he has nowhere to go, so, for that strategy to be effective:

  • White needs to have traded his light-squared bishop beforehand, or else pretty much any bishop vs knight endgame will be lost.
  • White must keep his dark-squared bishop at all cost, or else Black's bishop could be very harmful
  • White needs to know what to do about enemy knights on f4 and d4.
  • Pawn breakthroughs near White's king must somehow be prevented (for example, if Black castles in the kingside, ...h7-h5 must be somehow prevented)

In short, I don't like that kind of "wall" at all. And we haven't even talked about the at least eight moves it requires to build it, in which you can develop pretty much all of your pieces. Sometimes a c3-d4-e3-f4 formation is built (Stonewall Dutch), but this is only four moves and only leaves one weak square (e4) rather than four. So, occupy the dark squares, open a file and checkmate your opponent! If you want, post an example game where you've struggled against the "wall", and we can see what else could have being played

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After searching my game base, I located 190 out of 6,168,985 games, with the pawns at: wPa4, b3, c4, d3, e4, f3, g4, h3.

I discarded those games that one or both of the opponents lacked a rating, leaving 113 games. I found by tabulating the results (1-0, 1/2 or 0-1) against the rating of the players (between 1900 to 2200), that the score was 27% in 77 games (5+ 31= 41-) .

The most frequent openings were:

English: symmetrical variation  20
Nimzovich-Larsen attack         30
Sicilian                        13
Others                          50
Total                          113

With the statistics we can conclude that White's pawn configuration does not favor him.

Just a sample. After move 82 in game Petrosian,Tigran L - Milanovic,Danilo Dos Hermanas Internet f 6th, ICC INT, 2005.03.26 0-1(199), was reached the following position:

8/r1kbb3/r1p2p2/p1p1p1p1/P1PpP1Pp/1P1P1P1P/RR1B4/KN6 w - - 0 83
[FEN "8/r1kbb3/r1p2p2/p1p1p1p1/P1PpP1Pp/1P1P1P1P/RR1B4/KN6 w - - 0 83"]
[Event "Dos Hermanas Internet f 6th"]
[Site "ICC INT"]
[Date "2005.03.26"]
[Round "2.2"]
[White "Petrosian, Tigran L"]
[Black "Milanovic, Danilo"]
[Result "0-1"]
[ECO "B30"]
[WhiteElo "2568"]
[BlackElo "2447"]
[EventDate "2005.03.11"]
[Opening "Sicilian: Nimzovich-Rossolimo attack (3...e6)"]
[SetUp "1"]
[Source "ChessBase"]
[SourceDate "2005.05.01"]
[EventType "k.o."]
[EventRounds "5"]
[EventCountry "ESP"]

83. Na3 Rb6 84. Rb1 Rb8 85. Rc2 Kb6 86. Ka2 Rba8 87. Rcc1 Rb8 88. Nc2 Rba8 89.
Ne1 Rh8 90. Rc2 Rha8 91. Ng2 Rh8 92. Bc1 Kc7 93. Ba3 Bd6 94. Rf2 Be6 95. Ne1 Bd7
96. Nc2 Be6 97. Rg1 Bd7 98. Rff1 Be6 99. Rg2 Bd7 100. Ne1 Be6 101. Kb2 Bd7 102.
Ka2 Be6 103. Rff2 Bd7 104. Re2 Be6 105. f4 gxf4 106. Nf3 Raa8 107. Re1 Rag8 108.
Reg1 Be7 109. Kb2 Kb6 110. Kc2 Bd6 111. Rh1 Rg6 112. Bb2 Kc7 113. Rhg1 Kb6 114.
Bc1 Kc7 115. Bd2 Kb6 116. Be1 Rgh6 117. g5 fxg5 118. Rxg5 Bxh3 119. Rh1 Bc8 120.
Rxh4 Rxh4 121. Bxh4 Re8 122. Rg6 Bc7 123. Bf6 Bh3 124. Kd2 Bf1 125. Rg5 Rf8 126.
Bxe5 Bxe5 127. Nxe5 Rh8 128. Ke1 Rh1 129. Kf2 Bh3 130. Rh5 Kc7 131. Rh6 Rf1+
132. Ke2 Rh1 133. Kf2 Kb7 134. Rh7+ Kb8 135. Nxc6+ Kc8 136. Ne5 Rf1+ 137. Ke2
Rh1 138. Kf2 Rf1+ 139. Ke2 Rh1 140. Rh8+ Kc7 141. Kd2 Rh2+ 142. Ke1 Rh1+ 143.
Kd2 Rh2+ 144. Kc1 Rh1+ 145. Kb2 Bg2 146. Rxh1 Bxh1 147. Kc2 Kd6 148. Ng4 Bf3
149. Nf2 Ke5 150. Kd2 Kf6 151. Ke1 Kg5 152. Kf1 Kh4 153. e5 Kg5 154. Nh3+ Kf5
155. e6 Bc6 156. e7 f3 157. Kf2 Kg4 158. Ng1 Kf5 159. Nxf3 Ke6 160. Kg3 Kxe7
161. Ne5 Be8 162. Kf4 Ke6 163. Nf3 Bh5 164. Ng5+ Kd6 165. Ne4+ Kc6 166. Nd2 Bd1
167. Ke4 Bc2 168. Ke5 Bxd3 169. Kf4 Bc2 170. Kf3 Bd3 171. Kf4 Kd6 172. Kf3 Ke5
173. Kg3 Be2 174. Kf2 Bh5 175. Nf1 Ke4 176. Ng3+ Kd3 177. Nxh5 Kc3 178. Ke2 Kxb3
179. Kd3 Kxa4 180. Ng3 Kb3 181. Ne4 Kb4 182. Nd2 a4 183. Kc2 a3 184. Kc1 Kc3
185. Nb1+ Kb3 186. Nd2+ Kb4 187. Kc2 Ka4 188. Kb1 Kb4 189. Kc2 d3+ 190. Kb1 Kc3
191. Ne4+ Kxc4 192. Ka2 Kd4 193. Nd2 Kc3 194. Ne4+ Kb4 195. Kb1 c4 196. Nf2 Kb3
197. Kc1 a2 198. Kd2 a1=Q 199. Ke3 Qe1+ 0-1

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